Earlier this season, when UCLA was riding its high-powered offense to 19 wins in 20 games, Arizona coach Sean Miller marveled that the Bruins could win it all this season. Arizona has since beaten them twice in three games. And, in their 86-75 Pac-12 Tournament semifinal win over the Bruins, the Wildcats had virtually all of their weapons on full display just in time for a Pac-12 Tournament final against Oregon and a possible chance to gain a No. 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament's West region. Lauri Markkanen (7'0''-PF-97) led the Wildcats on Friday with 29 points and continued to find the 3-pointer that was noticeably absent last month, making 4 of 9 from long range, while Allonzo Trier (6'4''-F-96) had 20 points on a typical mix of drives to the basket, free throws and 3 of 4 3-pointers. Also working for UA: Kadeem Allen (6'3''-G) drives to the bucket, and some all-around aggressiveness from Rawle Alkins (6'6''-SG-97). Allen had nine points while Alkins had eight points and five rebounds. The win moved second-seeded Arizona to 29-4 and into the Pac-12 Tournament final Saturday at 8 p.m. UCLA dropped to 29-4 and will likely become the third priority out of the Pac-12 for the NCAA Tournament selection committee. A win over the Ducks might earn the Wildcats the best NCAA Tournament placement out of the Pac-12, most likely a No. 2 seed in the West Region. UA lost by 27 points on Feb. 4 in Eugene and, because of that loss, Arizona was rated behind Oregon in the NCAA selection committee's Feb. 11 early bracket reveal. The Ducks have not lost a game since then, but Saturday's game might give the Wildcats a chance to make up for it, and give them another opportunity against a Top 25 RPI team. As of now, UA has only two such wins, both of them over UCLA. Of course, beating the Ducks doesn't figure to be an easy accomplishment for Arizona. The Wildcats have lost three straight games to Oregon, including an 85-58 drubbing on Feb. 4 in Eugene, a loss in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals last season and a homecourt loss in January 2016 that snapped UA's 49-game homecourt winning streak. UA is 1-3 in Pac-12 Tournament final games under coach Sean Miller , but beat Oregon in the 2015 Pac-12 Tournament final. Arizona's win also snapped UCLA's 10-game win streak and dropped the Bruins to 29-4, where they will likely now be the third highest-seeded team out of the Pac-12. After leading by six points at halftime, Arizona pushed it to 11 early in the second half while keeping the Bruins without a field goal for nearly four minutes. UCLA's shooting woes were typified by a missed 3-pointer in the right corner by Bryce Drew (6'3''-G-74, college: Valparaiso), his seventh miss without a single make. As a team UCLA had made just 2 of 17 3s through the first 27 minutes of the game. While Alford finally hit a 3 with 10:04 remaining, cutting UA's lead to 66-57, the Bruins trailed by double digits from there until Isaac Hamiton scored to make it 84-75. Arizona wound up holding UCLA to about 40 percent shooting from the field, while the Bruins made just 4 of 22 (18.2 percent) from 3-point range. Alford finished 1 for 9 from beyond the arc. In the first half, Arizona sank 7 of 13 3-pointers and held UCLA to just 2 of 12 3-pointers while taking a 41-35 halftime lead. Trier led UA in the half with 13 points while Markkanen had 12 points, with each of them making two 3-pointers. UA also held UCLA to 42.3 percent shooting overall from the field and just 2 of 12 from 3-point range. With UCLA trailing by just a point with 3:20 to go in the first half, Kadeem Allen twice went coast-to-coast for layups. He made the first and, when he missed the second, Markkanen trailed behind, picked up the miss and dunked it in for a 34-29 lead. The Wildcats used an 8-0 run to take a 27-20 lead into the final six minutes of the half, getting 3-pointers from Allen and Markkanen. However, Trier missed an open 3-pointer and Keanu Pinder (6'9''-F/G-95, college: Hutchinson CC) missed a pair of free throws that might have expanded UA's lead even further. After UCLA took early leads of up to six points while making five of its first six shots, Arizona held the Bruins scoreless for the next 5:28 and took a 14-13 lead when Trier hit a pair of free throws with 12:52 left in the half. Aaron Holiday finally broke the UCLA drought with a 3-pointer that gave the Bruins a 17-14 lead with 10:32 left, but the Bruins were never really the same after that point. As a result, UCLA will go home for rest before Selection Sunday while Arizona will be playing the team it tied with for first place in the regular season. Both Oregon and UA went 16-2 throughout the regular season and have each won two games in the tournament. There will be some separation between the Ducks and Wildcats on Saturday night. Courtesy of: tucson.com
Player of the Year:Michael Mallory(6'1''-G) of S.Connecticut Rookie of the Year: Marshall Lange (6'2''-G) of Newberry Coach of the Year: Patrick Beilein of Le Moyne Honorable Mention Gerrel Irvin (6'8''-F) of Dominican, NY Hunter Leveau (6'5''-F) of King Michael Mallory (6'1''-G) of S.Connecticut Matthew Dogan (6'7''-G) of Gannon [read more]
Oregon Advances After Surviving Michigan's Buzzer-Beater Attempt - 8 hours ago
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The scoreboard had Oregon up by 2 points at the half, but it felt as though Michigan, the underdog, was about to overwhelm the Ducks. Michigan's point guard, Derrick Walton (6'1''-G-95) Jr., a senior, had deftly amassed seven assists, looking for all the world like a quarterback finding receivers like Duncan Robinson (6'8''-G/F-94) and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman through thickets of defenders. D. J. Wilson, a junior with a tall haircut and short shorts, had hit two 3-pointers and contribut... [read more]
The scoreboard had Oregon up by 2 points at the half, but it felt as though Michigan, the underdog, was about to overwhelm the Ducks. Michigan's point guard, Derrick Walton (6'1''-G-95) Jr., a senior, had deftly amassed seven assists, looking for all the world like a quarterback finding receivers like Duncan Robinson (6'8''-G/F-94) and Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman through thickets of defenders. D. J. Wilson, a junior with a tall haircut and short shorts, had hit two 3-pointers and contributed a block and a steal in just seven minutes of play, his time limited by foul trouble. But Michigan's seemingly impending surge never materialized, as third-seeded Oregon, playing one of the country's most 3-point-happy teams, began to take more aim from deep and hit 3-pointers. And hit them and hit them and hit them. Five from sophomore Tyler Dorsey (6'4''-SG-96), two from junior Dillon Brooks (6'6''-F-96) - all in the second half. The Ducks, which entered making fewer than one-third of their shots from deep, made 47.1 percent (8-for-17) for the game. But Dorsey's most crucial shot came not from beyond the 3-point line, but on an acrobatic drive to the basket that put the Ducks ahead by a point with 1 minute 9 seconds remaining. Those proved to be the final points in a 69-68 victory for Oregon (32-5) over seventh-seeded Michigan (26-12), sending the Ducks to the round of eight on Saturday to play the winner of the later game Thursday night, between No. 1 Kansas and No. 4 Purdue. The Ducks were led by Dorsey and the junior Jordan Bell (6'9''-F-95). Dorsey had 20 points; Bell had a double-double, with 16 points and 13 rebounds - including, on the possession before Dorsey's lay-in, a crucial board on a missed Oregon free throw that he put back to cut Michigan's lead to 1 point. Michigan's Walton finished with 20 points and 8 assists, and his fellow senior guard Zak Irvin (6'6''-G/F-94) had 19 points and 8 rebounds. Moritz Wagner, a 6-foot-10 sophomore from Berlin, who goes by Moe, was Michigan's leading scorer in the last game, an upset of second-seeded Louisville, but on Thursday he appeared physically overwhelmed in the low post and hapless elsewhere, at one point botching a clear layup after Oregon gave him the lane. He finished with 7 points on 10 shots and barely saw the court in the second half. When Brooks hit a 3 with a little more than 13 minutes left in the game, Oregon led by 50-44 and looked in control. But the Ducks let the Wolverines back in it, missing their next five field goals and going scoreless for more than three minutes. Wilson played terrific defense on Bell, forcing him into a miss one-on-one in the post and then grabbing the rebound. Michigan took a 51-50 lead with Walton sitting for the first time in the game. Then Oregon fought back and built a 56-51 lead, with Tyler Ennis (6'2''-G-94, college: Syracuse) contributing a 3-point play. Wilson brilliantly faked his defender with the ball down low, only to miss the layup. Later, Wilson found Irvin underneath in a Walton-like assist to cut Oregon's lead to three. The game continued to seesaw between 3- and 5-point Oregon leads until Wilson hit a 3 to cut Oregon's lead to 60-58 with less than five minutes left. On Michigan's next possession, Walton dribbled at the top of the key, and Oregon's defense dropped back, giving him room to hit his own 3-pointer for a 61-60 lead for the Wolverines with 4:15 remaining. The lead was short-lived: Another Oregon 3-pointer was in store, from Dorsey. On the other end? A 3 from Irvin. With fewer than two minutes left and the shot clock dribbling, Walton took it upon himself again, creating a fadeaway shot that seemed to take an eternity to decide whether to go through the hoop or not. It finally decided in the affirmative, making the score 68-65 - Michigan's largest lead since the first half. Bell grabbed a missed Oregon free throw and put it in to make it a one-point Wolverines lead. This was followed by Dorsey's athletic drive to make it 69-68 Oregon with one minute remaining. Walton had one last chance to go ahead, but his attempt at a buzzer-beating 3-pointer was short. Though a major-conference champion with a famous football team, Michigan might have been the closest thing to a Cinderella story among the 16 teams that entered the N.C.A.A. men's basketball tournament's second weekend. Fledgling through the end of the season, its plane bound for the Big Ten tournament skidded off the runway, spooking the team and causing light injuries. The Wolverines proceeded to tear through that tournament, winning it all. Ranked as high as fourth overall in the Associated Press poll this season, Oregon lost its top shot-blocker, senior Chris Boucher, to a season-ending knee injury in the Pacific-12 tournament. The Ducks now look to make just their second Final Four in program history - and their first since 1939, the very first Final Four of them all. Courtesy of: nytimes.com
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